People are driven to save energy in the home for a number of reasons. From reducing annual household bills to doing their bit for the environment, it makes good sense to turn your attention to practical ways to limit the amount of energy you use.
Fortunately, there are no limits on the ways that you can do this including no-cost and low cost initiatives to more impressive investments in high-tech solutions. Some of these higher cost items qualify for government grants.
So, here is our guide to how to save energy in the home.
No Cost Ways to Reduce Energy Bills
Firstly, let’s look at some free ways you can save energy in the home:
Heating can account for up to 2/3 of the annual energy bills and small changes can affect big changes in costs.
- Turn the heating down by 1o If you have young children or babies, they don’t need the heating on high; a temperature of between 16oC and 20oC is optimal. A single degree drop on the thermostat can result in energy savings of up to 10%.
- Turn radiators off in rooms you don’t use or are only used occasionally
- If you are going away over the weekend or on holiday turn the thermostat right down. In cold weather, leave it set at for at least 5oC to avoid pipes freezing up.
- Keep radiators clear of furniture to allow them to work to their optimum efficiency. This includes curtains that drape over radiators as these can funnel the hot air directly to the window where it will immediately cool.
- If you are hot, turn the heating down rather than opening a window.
- Save energy by keeping external doors closed to avoid warm air escaping.
- Consider wearing another layer rather than notching up the thermostat.
- Keep all curtains drawn at night; they will help keep the heat in. In the same way, rooms that have sunny aspects should have the curtains open during the day to allow the sun to warm the room.
- Always service your boiler regularly to keep it working to its optimum efficiency, whatever that is.
Often a secondary by-product of our heating, savings on hot water can be smaller by comparison to things like heating or electricity used for lighting and power but every little helps.
- Turn the hot water temperature down at the boiler. Many people run hot and cold water together to reduce the temperature which wastes energy. 60oC or a touch higher should be sufficient to avoid scalding and, if you have a storage system, avoid Legionella growth.
- Remember that a power shower can use as much water in five minutes as you would in a bath so keep your showers brief.
- Never leave hot water taps running, always use a plug.
Lighting is one of the most obvious ways to save energy because you see exactly where it is being used.
- The simplest and easiest advice in our guide is to switch lights off when they aren’t needed. Likewise, if you have several sources of light in one room, reduce the number of bulbs in use by taking up the challenger of lighting the task not the space.
- Use natural light where you can. Draw curtains to allow daylight into a room and consider cutting back any hedges that cast shadows.
- Avoid purchasing lamps or fittings that use linear halogen bulbs such as uplighters. Most of these bulbs are over 100w with some being 300w. A low energy spotlight consumes up to 30x less.
- If you have any fluorescent strip tubes in your home then the general misconception is that leaving them on is better than re-starting them. Whilst the starters do consume a little extra energy, if you are out of the room for more than five or ten minutes then it is cheaper to switch them off.
An often-overlooked part of saving energy as it is considered a necessary source of fuel. However, there are plenty of little ways to make the process more efficient and save money.
- Always use the correct size saucepan for the element (or ring burner).
- Cut food into small pieces when cooking as it cooks more quickly.
- If you need to use boiling water for cooking things like pasta or veg, always use an electric kettle.
- Speaking of kettles, always keep your element limescale-free. You can do this with a special solution or using a 2/3 water, 1/3 vinegar mix. Leave the solution to work on the limescale overnight before rinsing well and the boiling a full kettle once to clean.
- Always place a lid on saucepans; it keeps the heat in to cook the food more quickly and thereby saving energy.
- A pan that has boiled should be turned down as it requires less heat to keep it boiling. This will also prevent the liquid from boiling over the side of the pan.
- Slow cookers are great ways to save energy and though they take longer the energy used is equivalent to a small bulb as opposed to heating a large oven.
- Pressure cookers are also a good way to save energy as they reduce cooking times.
- Clean your oven door and use it to check on food rather than opening the door.
- When cooking veg, use only enough water to cover them and not a full saucepan.
- Use a steamer to make the most of the energy produce by one element (or ring burner).
- Never overfill a kettle before you boil it. Put enough water in for what you need it for but make sure this covers the element.
The Fridge & Freezer
Though these two appliances are never turned off there are ways you can help to reduce the amount of energy they use.
- Always make sure that food has cooled down before putting it into your fridge or freezer.
- Make sure both your fridge and freezer are kept away from heat sources such as radiators, cookers, tumble dryers, dishwashers and washing machines. Make sure they are not in any direct sunlight or in a hot room like a conservatory.
- Don’t leave the fridge or freezer door open for any longer than is necessary.
- Keep fridges and freezers as full as you can to reduce energy. If you have a large freezer then you can always use bubble wrap or scrunched up newspaper to gap fill. This stops warm air from circulating when the door is opened.
- Keep the condenser coils at the rear of your appliances free from any dust and grime. They should also not be pushed right up against the wall so that air can circulate freely around them.
- Defrost the freezer regularly and make sure that any build-up of ice thicker than 5mm is dealt with.
- Use a lower temperature for your general washing; a wash at 60oC uses almost twice as much energy as a wash at 40o Most modern washing powders are designed to be effective at 30oC.
- Use economy program or cold wash settings where you can.
- Wait until you have a full load before running a cycle.
- Air-dry your washing instead of using a tumble dryer.
- If you must use a tumble dryer then ensure the laundry is wrung out beforehand and that the fluff filter is kept clean.
- Always turn off your appliances when not in use, older tumble dryers left in standby can consume up to 40% of their power left plugged in.
- When ironing, switch off the iron before you have finished to press those last items using residual heat.
Gadgets and Electrical Appliances
The modern world offers us many high-tech solutions but there is a price to pay to be surrounded by so many gadgets. Almost every socket in our home has something attached to it and here are a few ideas to reduce the costs associated with running these appliances.
- Always unplug mobile and device charges when not in use. Not only can they represent a fire hazard but they consume power whilst plugged in. This applies to TVs, consoles, DVD players and other electrical equipment. Some TVs consumes almost as much power in standby as they do whilst running.
Low Cost Initiatives to Save Energy in the Home
These cheap ideas will reduce your energy costs and should pay back on the capital investment in a short period of time.
- If you have thin curtains you could line them with a thicker material to help keep the heat in.
- If your walls aren’t insulated, then putting radiator foil on the wall behind your radiators. It works both to prevent the heat escaping into the walls but also to reflect the heat back into the room.
- Draught proof your home by using seals around window and door frames. Don’t forget the letterbox. Make sure you maintain sufficient ventilation to avoid condensation and, if you have an open gas fire, boiler with flue or solid fuel heater/fire you should always make sure that ventilation is not impeded.
- Fit a TRV (Thermostatic Radiator Valve) to every radiator so you can isolate or turn down the heating by room.
- If you have an open fireplace which is not in use then stop heat from escaping by using a chimney pillow. These inflatable devices help keep heat loss and also stop rainwater from coming down the chimney. Just be sure to remove it before you use the fire again (most come with a hanging strap which serves as a reminder).
- Fix leaky hot water taps as soon as you notice them.
- Insulate your hot water pipes. You can buy sleeves which are simple to clip around the pipes.
- If you have an immersion heater then install a timer so you only heat the water when it is needed. There is a myth that it takes more energy to reheat the tank than it does leaving it on permanently but this is untrue.
- Replace existing bulbs with energy efficient equivalents, most will consume around 1/5 of the energy of the bulb they replace and can last up to 10 times longer.
The Fridge & Freezer
- Check the seals around the door of your fridge and freezer. Close the door on a piece of paper and if it slips out easily then you need to replace the seals.
- If you live in a hardwater area (most of the south of England is) the limescales can play a role in reducing the efficiency of your washing machine. You can add de-scaling tablets to your wash
Capital Investments to Save Energy in the Home
Some initiatives take a little longer to deliver savings against investment but these ideas are worth considering if you are committed to long term energy reductions.
- Insulate your walls. Cavity walls are easier to do than solid walls which require cladding but this can help prevent up to 35% in heat loss.
- Insulate your loft. An easy Do-It-Yourself project for most people, fiting 270mm thick insulation can help up to 25% of the heat generated in your home from escaping. Always wear suitable clothing and a face mask to do this.
- Fitted carpets with a good underlay can help prevent heat loss through the floor, particularly in houses with bare floorboards.
- Consider replacing your conventional boiler with a more efficient condensing boiler. Some models can be up to 95% efficient compared to just 70%-80% with traditional system boilers.
- If you have an immersion heater then make sure it is insulated.
- When replacing ovens, microwaves, toasters and kettles, opt for energy efficient models. Power consumption of kettles can vary a lot.
The Fridge & Freezer
- When its time to replace your fridge or freezer, always opt for the most energy efficient your budget will allow. A new A+++ rated fridge or freezer consumes around 1/3 less energy than an older model.
- Consider a chest freezer as opposed to an upright freezer. You can save energy because the cold air doesn’t ‘fall-out’ every time the door is opened.
- If you have an old washing machine then you might want to consider replacing it. Consuming almost 1/3 less energy than traditional machines, the savings you make on running costs could pay for a new machine in under two years.
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Featured image via Pixabay.